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To live longer, is it enough to be more positive on a daily basis? According to a new American study, optimism could indeed save up to four additional years of life.

While many studies have already focused on risk factors that increase disease, very few have ultimately what could lengthen life expectancy. And according to a new study, being optimistic would lead to a longer life. “Much previous work has focused on deficits or risk factors that increase the risk of disease and premature death. Our results suggest that it is useful to focus on positive psychological factors, such as optimism, as possible new ways to promote longevity and healthy aging in diverse groups.”said Hayami Koga, lead author of the study.

To achieve these results, published in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers followed nearly 160,000 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79, for 26 years. They measured their level of optimism through psychological tests and then divided them into four groups, ranging from the most pessimistic to the most optimistic. The groups were formed without any distinction of social class, cultural background or level of study.

And among the participants, the most optimistic 25% had a extended life expectancy up to 5.4% compared to the most pessimistic, i.e. a “bonus” of about four additional years of life on a life expectancy of 85 years. They also had 10% more likely to live past 90.

“It is important to think about positive resources”

This link between optimism and longevity does not only depend on social level and lifestyle: indeed, according to the study, the contribution of lifestyle – balanced diet, sports activity – was only “modest”. Optimism would bring hormonal and biochemical protection Beneficial for the body which would allow in particular to better resist stress, depression or anger.

We tend to focus on negative risk factors that affect our health“said Hayami Koga.”It’s also important to think about positive resources, such as optimism, that can benefit our health, especially if we find that these benefits are seen across racial and ethnic groups..”

Sources:

  • Optimism, lifestyle, and longevity in a racially diverse cohort of women, Journal of The American Geriatrics SocietyJune 8, 2022
  • Optimism lengthens life, study finds, The Harvard GazetteJune 8, 2022

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